Ethiopian Airlines fly Addis Ababa to Los Angeles via Dublin and return Los Angeles to Addis Ababa via Dublin. While they also fly to Toronto and Washington via Dublin only the Los Angeles flight has fifth freedom rights. This means you can book a flight on just the Dublin to Los Angeles or Dublin to Addis Ababa leg with Ethiopian. I’ve completed two very brief trip reports on my flights with Ethiopian from Dublin to Los Angeles and the return Los Angeles to Dublin. I’ve also flown with Ethiopian to India via Addis Ababa as well and was very impressed.
When flying from Dublin to India via Addis Ababa both times I had long layovers – on the way over it was 8 hours and on the way back it was 9 hours 15 minutes. Thankfully I didn’t need to stay in Addis Ababa airport as Ethiopian offer a free layover hotel for those with long connections. As I was waiting in Addis Ababa to board my return flight to Dublin I got chatting to a couple who had spent 9 hours in the airport – they were completely unaware they were entitled to a free hotel room.
Requirements for the hotel:
- Must be connecting between an international and international flight
- The connection time must be between 8 and 24 hours
- You must be on the shortest possible connection time. If you arrive into Addis Ababa at 6AM and you are flying to Johannesburg at 10pm you are not entitled to a free transit hotel if there is a flight to Johannesburg that leaves earlier for example 1pm.
- Hotel room
- Round trip transfer to/from the hotel
- Meals depending on the time. When I arrived at 6AM and left at 4PM I got breakfast and lunch included.
How it works:
- Depending on the departure airport you may be able to get the hotel voucher before arriving into Addis Ababa. I’ve never been able to get it in Dublin but received the hotel voucher on the return trip at Delhi airport before boarding.
- If you do not get the hotel voucher before arriving into Addis Ababa you will need to go to the transit desk on arrival. This is located on the arrivals mezzanine. Do not go up to departures or down to immigration.
- Any time I’ve arrived at the desk there has only been one or two people in front of me but it was still a slow process. They will give you a hotel voucher and sometimes a number of meal passes to be used at the hotel. Most hotels do not require meal passes.
- Once you have a hotel voucher you can proceed to immigration. On the left of the immigration hall is the visa on arrival service. I always go to the right, to the main immigration queue. I showed the immigration officer my passport, hotel voucher and connecting boarding card and he stamped the boarding card only. I had no Ethiopian visa at all – you are not required to have one. Looking at my passport now there is no evidence I was ever in Ethiopia.
- Once you’re through immigration, you do not need to collect your bags if they are checked through.
- Before leaving the baggage hall try find an Ethiopian Airlines staff member and show them the hotel voucher. They may direct you to sit down at the seats before the exit of the baggage hall or they may bring you to the bus. If you are told to sit in the seat you might be waiting for a while but I’ve never been forgotten about so I wouldn’t worry to much if you sitting there for 20 minutes or so and nothing happens.
- When you get to the hotel confirm the time of the shuttle back to the airport.
What hotel do you get:
You do not get a choice of hotel but they are more than adequate. They are all 3 or 4 stars (local 3 or 4 stars!). All hotels have had in room tv and wifi and a bar to pass the time in. The three I remember are listed below.
The layover service is quite efficient in Addis Ababa and certainly beats sitting around the airport with not much to do. The transit desk queue can get quite long apparently and can be a bit unorderly as with everything at the airport.